The lost art of cell phone forgetfulness

The mind is a terrible thing to use
Remember when “I forgot” was a valid excuse?
No more. In the digital world, if something’s worth remembering, it’s remembered somewhere. Got a meeting? If your PDA doesn’t tell you so, your cell phone will. Assignment due? It’s in too many electronic calendars to slip anyone’s mind.

One Harvard professor doesn’t think this is a good thing. In his paper Useful Void: The Art of Forgetting in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing, Victor Mayer-Schönberger of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government argues that until the digital age, the default mode for society was to eventually forget things. Now, he says, with Google storing every search string, video cameras everywhere and Web pages catalogued forever, remembering everything forever is the default mode, and this could stifle freedom of expression through paranoia.

He’s recommending that, through a mix of legal and technological means, we shift the default back to forgetting eventually, which suggests he’s never met my mother.

Bii there with the stars
Nintendo’s Wii is deliriously popular, and not just for the gameplay. Part of the fun is creating your own avatars, (called Miis) which can be shared online through the Wii channel. The users who create them often share the recipe (ReciMii?) for creating Miis so others can copy them. has assembled a photo gallery of celebrity Miis, or CelebreMiis, here. Warning: The Jack Black CelebreMii is a disturbingly close likeness. So is the Michael Jackson Mii, though now where near as disturbing as the real article.

When GPS attacks

A 20-year-old English woman who followed the driving instructions provided be her satellite navigation unit has a close brush with death, specifically a speeding train. The satnav, in the course of providing her directions, directed her towards a remote level train crossing. The woman, realizing that the quickest route from A to B was probably not to be horribly mangled in a car/train collision, jumped about before disaster ensued.

“I put my complete trust in the satnav and it led me right into the path of a speeding train. The crossing wasn’t shown on the satnav, there were no signs at all, and it wasn’t lit up to warn of an oncoming train,” said the woman, as reported in this story by The Register.

At this moment, a really, really terrible Hollywood hack is working on a movie adaptation. Or maybe not. Someone should though. Insider will consider all financial offers for his screenwriting debut.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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